Words by Aakanksha Tangri, Founder of Re:Set
When I’m stressed, anxious or nervous, the tell-tale signs manifest in my body. My hands get clammy, I feel nauseous, my stomach churns, or my legs start shaking. I can feel the burden play out physically in my body and mentally on my psyche. There has been a lot of focus on physical well-being and mental well-being, but many people tend to overlook the intersection between the two. Think back to the last time you didn’t feel so great mentally — did you feel sluggish and want to stay in bed all day or perhaps had knots in your stomach? Physical and mental well-being is of paramount importance, and we need to ensure we find ways to incorporate self-care for both aspects of our well-being. Here are simple ways to find balance in both:
The reason physical exercise is suggested as one way to take care of your mental health is because movement can increase blood circulation to the brain, and release chemicals such as endorphins and serotonin, also known as the “happy hormones,” it can also lower stress levels, and provide an opportunity for one to have face-to-face interactions. I’ve found that yoga helps me tremendously on my low days as it lifts my mood, I feel like I’ve accomplished something and building body strength always makes me proud. Find someone to hold you accountable and push you within your limits. My yoga teacher will consistently check-in on me to make sure I get some exercise. I’ve gone from hating yoga to actually craving it when I’m not feeling too great! It also helps to set achievable goals for yourself while exercising, be it running an extra few minutes or going to Zumba class two days a week. Or even just put on your favourite tunes and dance like no one’s watching!
Sometimes it’s as simple as that. Find time between meetings, while stuck in traffic or before bedtime to get some oxygen in. If you’re in a place where you can go outdoors and sit in a park or by the water, take advantage of that! Many health conditions are triggered by stress and the body’s response to it: think relapses in autoimmune conditions or high blood pressure, which can contribute to heart disease. Breathing improves blood flow, helps regulate your immune system and helps reduce stress levels, and fresh air and soothing sights can also help you, especially on days where you’re stressed or feeling down. I always find sitting outdoors helps me put my problems in perspective and realize there’s more to life than how I’m feeling at that particular moment.
You are what you think
It is important to watch what you consume. And by this, I am talking mentally. As you would think twice before eating something you know doesn’t agree with your system, similarly, if being on social media and seeing everyone’s “highlight reels” is continually making you feel bad about your life, then it’s time to take a break. If you find binge-watching a show is making you lethargic, then it’s time to hit the Re:Set button. If your mental state is being affected, chances are it will manifest physically in your body as well whether that’s through your body image, or having low energy levels due to loneliness or staying in bed all day. If you can, set time to step away from the constant scrolling and focus on doing one thing that makes you feel better. It can be something as quick as a cup of tea or coming up with three things you’re grateful about.
It can be hard to take that first step when you’re feeling low and unmotivated both physically and mentally, but even a small step is a way forward to your well-being.
Re:Set is an online resource of tools and stories around education, parenting, gender, inclusivity, mental health and well-being. Collaborating with thought-leaders, government officials, parents, educators, counsellors and corporate ninjas, Re:Set provides an in-depth and trusted resource where people can connect, get inspired and learn from one another. Promising a safe, inclusive space that encourages dialogue on issues that matter and inspire change, Re:Set starts conversations via insightful storytelling, proposes solutions, and encourages education around these tough subjects, whilst aiming to dispel misconceptions and stigma surrounding such topics as mental health.
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